October 12, 2022
A turn in the road
By Gail Pope

After 38 years in the landscape industry, Jim Mosher of Landscape Plus felt it was time for a change. With a great team and a lot of hard work, the Toronto, Ont.-based landscape design, build, and maintenance company had built an enviable portfolio and assembled a regular client list that included many of the nicest properties in and around the city. So what was the problem?

As Mosher explained, “I love my job. The design of these spaces and the entire process of getting them on the ground and watching our teams bring them along into fruition over the years has been hugely satisfying and rewarding. It’s just that I felt this overwhelming need to create some time and space for other things both professional and personal. If I don’t make the room, work and life is just fated to get busier and busier. I think at this point I want to be very selective on how I spend my time.”  

A love of all things involving design and detail ruled out the option of outright retirement. “The idea of perhaps selling the business, hanging around for a couple of transition years and then retiring was just setting up to leave me unsatisfied and grumpy,” Mosher said.  

As the outline of potential changes was discussed with staff, it became clear that opportunities were being created for those within and outside LP.

The decisions were far from easy, but after more than a bit of wrestling, reconsidering and rejigging, Mosher and his team arrived at some choices.
backyard landscape
backyard patio
At the end of 2022, severances will be paid out to all LP employees of two years or more. This is to recognize the dedication and loyalty of the numerous long-term LP employees that make up the team. More than a few have been with the company for over 30 years. The severances are also intended to help ease people’s transition to either the new LP model or perhaps a venture of their own.

The garden maintenance component of LP known as ‘Garden Development’ will be disbanded as of the end of 2022. This cornerstone of the business has kept LP gardens in top form for decades and provided regular contact with an ever-increasing client base.  

The upshot of this change is a number of new ventures emerging as LP employees launch businesses of their own. As Mosher noted, “I love the mentoring part of this process. There is so much to share… pricing, client relations, overheads. I see eyes opening up like saucers when this stuff starts going up on the white board. It is my hope to set these people up for success right out of the gate.”

Val Groves, the Garden Development manager and LP employee for over 13 years, commented, “I think it’s giving everybody the chance to evaluate what we really want to pursue. We all feel supported… and I would certainly support my team in whatever they want to do next. I think it’s providing some good potential opportunities for everybody.”

On the irrigation install and service front, clients have been provided with a number of vetted industry providers to select from, as well as the opportunity to continue independently with another new entrepreneur who has been handling operations internally for LP for a number of years. Landscape lighting installs and service is similarly being addressed by providing vetted provider options.
backyard pool
outdoor living area
What will remain is the core business: landscape design and build. However, there are a couple of key caveats. Firstly, the build season will begin on May 1 and end on Sept. 15, with a two week summer break beginning on July 1.

“I guess we are turning it back into a summer job,” Mosher said. “Many of our senior employees are quite pleased with the proposed setup. A solid four months with LP on something truly exceptional in conjunction with a few gigs of their own outside LP both before and after our May-to-September season appears quite appealing.”  As for some of the younger employees Mosher said, “Admittedly this is trickier, but I believe the opportunity to hone skills at a pretty high level on an LP project while putting a mentored toe into the water with their own new ventures before and after our season has value. If nothing else it certainly is a safety net.”

Secondly, LP has always been very selective on the projects they take. Client fit and qualifying has always been front and centre. Moving forward, this will be truer than ever as potential new projects will, “need to be deeply interesting, challenging and financially viable. The clock is ticking and no time will be spent on something we don’t really want to do,” Mosher explained. Projects are currently booking into 2024-2025.

Lastly, Mosher will be opening up the doors to designing and consulting outside the Toronto area. Previously, Landscape Plus was only involved in drawing projects that they would be building themselves.

As a result, opportunities outside the Greater Toronto Area were regularly turned down.

“I am super excited with the challenges being presented to us and the opportunity to perhaps help other designers and contractors with the challenges they are facing, wherever they may be,” Mosher said.
backyard landscape